Magazine article Science News

No Resistance to Superconductivity

Magazine article Science News

No Resistance to Superconductivity

Article excerpt

No resistance to superconductivity

If it's true that sound travels faster than the speed of light in the nation's capital, then the phrase "high-temperature superconductivity' might have set new records last week, prompting a pack of political proposals designed to speed commercialization of an as-yet-unproven technology.

Led by President Reagan, official announced the creation of councils, committees and consortia to aid the push to move superconductivity out of the lab and into the marketplace before foreign competitors do so. The proposals came at a Washington, D.C., gathering of more than 1,000 government officials, industry experts and academics brought together by invitation only for the Federal Conference on Commercial Applications of Superconductivity.

The major thrust of government involvement came under the President's Superconductivity Initiative, an 11-point plan designed to speed research on the technology that enables certain materials to lose their electrical resistivity at temperatures high enough to replace today's expensive liquid-helium cooling with more affordable liquid-nitrogen cooling techniques (SN:3/28/87, p.196). If scientists can overcome the obstacles needed to perfect the technology, high-temperature superconductivity could eventually cut costs and increase performance of many existing electrical and electronics systems.

The initiative includes:

three legislative proposals that would relax antitrust laws to allow manufacturers to enter into some types of joint ventures, amend patent laws so that U.S. companies may seek damages when imported products infringe on patents, and change the Freedom of Information Act so that federal labs may withhold from the private sector information deemed commercially valuable.

creation of a three- to five-person group from industry and academia that would advise the administration on superconductivity research and commercialization policies. …

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